The Albany County Sheriff’s Office alerted Albany County residents Thursday of a recent scam call from someone claiming to be with the office saying a person missed jury duty and they need to come in to the office because of it, Undersheriff Josh DeBree said.
“On Nov. 2, we had a deputy dispatched with the complainant, (she) received a phone call from a scammer,” DeBree said.
“(The scammer said) something to the effect of she missed jury duty and that the judge was willing to forgive her if she met (the
scammer) at the Sheriff’s Office.”
The scammers did not request money from the victim, he said.
“This is the only call this particular set of circumstances that we are aware of,” DeBree said. “Somehow, the scammer knew this gal’s personal address (and) she never gave any personal information over the phone.”
Using the information from the victim, the office learned the scammer used the Sheriff’s Office front desk number when he made contact with the victim and asked them to call a different number to make contact with him, he said.
“A deputy’s attempted to give this person a call back, to try to gather more information — he ended up hanging up and not answering the phone again,” DeBree said. “It is pretty similar to the other ones we made (people) aware of, it is just a different angle and a different victim this time.”
Albany County Clerk of District Court Janice Sexton said she receives calls about new scams concerning District Court almost monthly, and some people have paid several thousands of dollars to scammers.
“It seems we hear of a new one once a month,” Sexton said. “Some people have been out $5,000-$10,000, they get scared and that makes me sad because jury duty may not be fun but it is nothing we are going to threaten you with in monetary or put you in jail for.”
Scammers damage the reputation of the court offices and law enforcement agencies, she said.
“The scammers are taking advantage of people’s fear of law enforcement and the courts — neither one of us are to be feared,” Sexton said. “Jury duty is an inconvenience for everyone but it is also your civic duty.”
She said scammers are coming up with new ways to try to convince people they are real. “They are now using my staff’s names thinking somebody will recognize and think ‘Oh my gosh, I know Cathy or I know Stacy, this must be legit,’” Sexton said.
“(There is) an app you can get on your phone where you can change your phone number to anything you want temporarily, they look like Laramie or Wyoming phone numbers when they could be from overseas.”
If anyone receives a suspicious phone call, they should contact either the Sheriff’s Office or the courts office, she said.
“I would tell people if they are really unsure to just hang up, if we happen to be calling you for trial and if you hang up on us … we’ll probably call back,” Sexton said. “Even if they say they called for Municipal Court or Circuit Court, anybody that you call can get to the bottom of it.”